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Year in review : My top 5 albums of 2009

December 23, 2009 Leave a comment

Making an album is a tough business. For an artist to convey their very musical fibre on an 80-minute or less canvas, it takes a great deal of vision and knowing the idiosyncracies of their genre that they chose to operate within. I chose 5 albums I’ve listened to it in constant loop, rediscovering them all the time. Joris Voorn took the trouble of melding over a hundred tracks on his effort for the Balance series, a mix I will surely listen to this amazing mix with repeated listenings in the future. In other words, the Resident advisor’s Podcast are now essential and easily the best mixes covering the spectrum of electronic music (that is for serious afficionados and record collectors, not trendy teens who’ll stop listening to electronic music in 2 months ;-)) as well as the Beats in space website. So, here’s 5 albums I’ve especially enjoyed :

 

 

1) Joris Voorn : Balance 014 (EQ)

Joris Voorn changed the way that we think about mix albums in 2009. It’s territory that had been explored before, most notably by Richie Hawtin, but Balance 014 and others felt a bit like a sea change, as though we have finally entered into an age where DJs will no longer be able to get away with two turntables and a mixer on officially released compilations. Welcome to the future. My complete review here.

Joris Voorn : Balance 014 (EQ) – CD 1

 
 

2 & 3) Intrusion : RA.153 / Beat pharmacy : Wikkid times (That was one was released late 2008)

Some great collections that explores the realms of dub techno, dubstep and minimal, and contains household names from those areas. I have to admit not being the greastest fan of Dubstep but slowly I am getting to like it more and more as I am a dub devotee. Brendon Moeller has always pushed at the outer reaches of electronic dub with his Beat Pharmacy outfit. On his last album, he looks to have side-stepped the traditional and forged something wholly unique with the help of some of the best poets in the business : it’s dub, yes, but these dub-wise protest songs cut deeper than your average bass lick. Playing across rhythms like techno, reggae, folk, and minimal soul, the music is loosely etched in digital rhythms, dragging you deep, deep down into your subconscious. And of course hiring a Jamaîcan vocalist like Paul St Hilaire doesn’t hurt either. Soul for the 21st century music.

Intrusion meanwhile, offered one of the most solid mix in the RA series delievering afro beat like Tony Allen next to german dub staples like Maurizio, and Detroit techno legend Juan Atkins with his Model 500 imprint here remixed by Echospace. Produced and engineered with minimized to maximized sounds, these albums opened a new chapter in experimenation with synthesis and sound design.

Intrusion : RA.153 / 2009

Beat pharmacy : Nuclear race – Wikkid times (Deep space media)

Beat pharmacy : Nuclear Race (Appleblim & Komonazmuk Dub) – Wikkid times remixed

4) Sebo K : Watergate 04 (Watergate)

Sebo K, who’s been active on the Berlin techno scene for almost 20 years now, begun his career from playing drum and bass in a team with Alec Empire, but his musical path lead through breakbeat, electroclash and house, too. Currently Sebo K, beside Anja Schneider, is the biggest name of the Mobilee record label. His latest DJ mix is however going out on Watergate, the label run by owners of a club in Berlin of the same name. On Watergate 04, he mixes mostly deep house with a touch of funkiness enough to make you tap your feet at the floor but also to maintain an interesting vibe throughout. I especially liked Guillaume & The Coutu Dumonts and the track The pussy shepherd which contains a sample of Isaac Hayes’s Hot buttered soul track By the time I get to Phoenix. The way Sebo K has mixed the record up may not be easy to call a top notch technical mix but the power of the mix sits first and foremost in the throughoutly planned track selection and smartly placed accents.

Sebo K : Watergate 04 mix (Watergate)

5) Nouvelle vague : 3

The third album from the French band that conquered the world with Bossa-nova covers of Punk and New Wave classics. Features guest vocals from Martin Gore (Depeche Mode), Ian McCulloch (Echo & The Bunnymen), Barry Adamson (Magazine) and Terry Hall (The Specials/Fun Boy Three). Led by producer/arrangers Marc Collin and Olivier Libaux and sung by a revolving cast of chanteuses, the group’s first two albums have sold well over half-a-million copies. On 3, gone are the Reggae and Bossa-nova interpretations. Instead, the songs are inspired by American Country music and Bluegrass. This time around, Nouvelle Vague reinterpret Talking Heads’ ‘Road To Nowhere’, Psychedelic Furs’ ‘Heaven’, Gary Numan’s ‘Metal’, Sex Pistols’ ‘God Save The Queen’, Plastic Bertrand’s ‘Ca Plane Pour Moi’, Soft Cell’s ‘Say Hello Wave Goodbye’ and many more, making this Nouvelle Vague’s strongest album to date !

Nouvelle vague : Ça plane pour moi ( 3 : Peacefrog records )

Compilation of the year : The Grandfather Paradox whose tracklisting is kind of mind-boggling. So many mixes trump how wide-ranging their sound is, but Henrik Schwarz, Âme and Dixon took the cake in 2009, finding the place where Moondog, Steve Reich, Liquid Liquid, Yusef Lateef, Ø, Raymond Scott not only make sense together, but combine for one of the smoothest rides of the year, blending effortlessly into one another. Check out the tracklisting if you don’t believe me.

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Year in review : My top 5 singles of 2009

December 22, 2009 1 comment

As much as it would be almost impossible to label 2009 as the year of anything, for me, it’s been about discovering OOFT’s magical reworks, the dub scene in Germany as well as some amazing cosmic-italo disco productions by the likes of Sally Shapiro, Tensnake, the permanent vacation label, and Prins Thomas. Here is 5 singles I’ve especially enjoyed :

1) Lulu rouge : Melankoli (Mungolian Jetset Wet Version)

From the first minutes of the intro with an amazing long 1 minute raindrop, I have fell in love with this song. Child like vocals that reminds me of early Gus gus or Bjork music (both are Scandinavian mind you) amazing bassline, soothing atmosphere that keeps growing and bubbling with an almost progressive-house structure. Pål Nyhus & Knut Petter Sævik better known as The Mungolian Jetset have done an amazing remix of Lulu rouge’s ethereal chilled original.

Lulu rouge : Melankoli (Mungolian Jetset Wet Version) / Music for dreams

2) 6th Borough Project – Do It To The Max (Intruments of rapture)

Big ass basslines.The Revenge, Mark E and plenty of their slo-mo peers specialize in them, and “Do It to the Max” was this year’s fat-bottomed girl of choice, a masterpiece of funky house music that didn’t quite reach the 100 BPM mark. It didn’t need to, though, because as the vocal sample constantly reminded us, as long as we do it to the max tonight, everything is going to be all right. It sounds more like slow disco dub like Arthur Russell, with a touch of our century. It is actually a rework of Xavier’s Do it to the max that was released in 1982.

6th Borough Project – Do It To The Max (Intruments of rapture)

3) Sebo K – Saxtrack (Reboot’s twisted fist remix) ( Cecille Records )

Reboot’s extra oomph behind the kick transformed Sebo K & Metro’s “Saxtrack” house jaunt into an urgent beast of a tune. But it was the unfurling that made it special, with Reboot locking you in and unleashing the titular sax piecemeal, teasing, teasing and teasing some more before you get the phrase in full—and you find yourself feeling somehow euphoric and relieved at the same time. Jazzy and quite a party song.

Sebo K – Saxtrack (Reboot’s twisted fist remix) ( Cecille Records )

4) Claude Von Stroke – Vocal chords (Dirty bird)

Typically cheeky fun adventure mix of tech house you’d expect from this guy. Vocal Chords is a clever musical pun on the simple synth line ontop of bangin’ 4×4 but, as it is so well done, it has a depth that makes it as good a listen at home as in the club environment. Just one of the best tech-house I’ve listened to recently. Vocal chords is an ingenius track as it was made with a live human (Isaiha Musik) singing each note through all the vowel formants and octaves plus hours and hours and hours of chopping and programming. Truly an orginal piece of music.

Claude Von Stroke – Vocal chords (Dirty bird)

5) Michael Jackson : Thriller – OOFT Phazed edit mix (Bootleg)

It could’ve been number one in my list as there is no ranking order. I’ve not been ashamed to play this track at partys all over again. Once the vocal kicks in, it is deadly. OOFT preserve the track’s forward motion with a long breakdown in the tradition of extended versions of dance tracks of the 80’s and make it friendlier for DJs to mix. The Revenge is again displaying an uncanny ear for reworking music : this is the best remix of Michael Jackson I’ve ever heard, and imo it even surpasses the original making it less poppy and more danceable. It stays faithful to the original, removing most of the vocals and relentlessly working that funky hook. It’s subtle and clever at the same time. However, the OOFT version does keep in a few elements from the video (i.e. a long break) that I was really keen on. A great track that shows that DJ’s as record producers can also become an instrument of music.

 Michael Jackson : Thriller – OOFT Phazed edit mix (Bootleg)

Trentemøller : # 2 of the top 5 of my fav mixes of the moment

December 21, 2009 1 comment

Here is someone that doesn’t need any introduction. Trentemøller’s album The last resort and his skills as a producer are well established by now but how does he sounds as a DJ ? His live shows are also a force to be reckon with as those who were at Le Cercle in Quebec City in october of 2007 will recall his amazing performance there. The Essential Mix is a weekly radio broadcast that hairs on BBC radio 1 and that is hosted by the famous British Disc-Jockey Pete Tong that has spawned the movie It’s all gone Pete Tong. In 2006, Trentemøller’s mix was voted Essential mix of the year and you can see why when you listen to his 2 hours of music that runs the gamut from dub, reggae, ska to electro house, pop and even post punk. It’s one of the most well chosen tracklisting ever assembled. A brilliant tracklist personally chosen by Trentemøller as he chosed the tracks in a fabulous way : some of his own production are mixed with Franz Ferdinand (Remixed here by Justice) and followed by indie band Le Tigre. Not content to showcase some of his taste for indie and post punk, he also plays a song by The Specials, an important Ska band from the 80’s in the UK. This song is ranked 90th greatest song of all time, as well as the best song of 1981, by Acclaimed Music and was featured in Guy Ritchie’s film Snatch. Pay attention to the final tracks, Trentemøller here displays a mesmerizing bag of harsh electro with Moby’s Go remixed by himself and another of his remix from The Knife followed by 3 tracks of glitchy electro house that will leave you either breathless or exhausted. Two hours of genius mixing and by a man who’s got many tricks up his sleeves..Essential indeed. Tracklisting available here.

Trentemøller – The Pølar Mix or known as The Essential mix on BBC Radio 1 – 2006 (King Biscuit Recordings )

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